Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Gardening Philosophy

Buckwheat cover crop in bloom
I see a lot of debate online regarding gardening styles. Raised beds vs. in-ground, rows vs. beds, organic pesticide vs. no pesticide... it can boggle the mind. Do a google search for "The best way to start a garden" and you will get a million different websites with as many different opinions. Each gardener finds her own way, and that's fine. What works for me in Arkansas will not work for you in Oregon. Take bits and pieces of what you find here and experiment. My blog is specific to NW Arkansas, zone 7a and all plant varieties, planting times and processes are based on my environment. My humor, however, hopefully transcends geography.

In the spirit of full disclosure, it seems a good idea to lay out my gardening philosophy for new visitors (hi and welcome!) and existing followers (thanks and welcome back!). These are the basic tenets I live by in my garden. I believe gardening should be achievable and knowledge available for everyone who desires to provide fresh, healthy food for their family. These are my beliefs. I am not interested in debating them, but if you have questions, please feel free to email me.
  • Gardening shouldn't be expensive. I don't own a tiller or any expensive, fancy tools. What I do in my 2500+ sq. foot garden, I do with a few hand tools. There is certainly some expense that must be incurred during the growing process, but in my garden that consists mostly of seed and structures. I will discuss how I save money in those areas in future posts. 
  • I do not grow in, nor do I encourage growth in raised beds. There are certainly some benefits and drawbacks of growing in the ground, and if you already have raised beds, by golly, enjoy them! However, if the cost of building a raised bed and purchasing soil is keeping someone from growing, there is a problem. There are very few types of soil that are completely unsuited for growing. Most simply require some amendments and the right plant varieties. 
  • As much as I love growing plants, what I'm really doing is growing soil. Every bit of success, every healthy plant and every tasty veggie is a result of healthy soil. In How to Grow More Vegetables by John Jeavons, he writes "Current agricultural practices reportedly destroy approximately 6 pounds of soil for each pound of food produced. US croplands are losing topsoil about 18 times faster than the soil formation rate." Once it's gone, we can't get it back, folks. Is this barren land we are creating really what we want to leave our children and grandchildren. This is why I grow soil, rather than importing it. The "Grow Biointensive" approach I'm using (detailed in Mr. Jeavons' book) can build the soil up to 60 times faster than in nature! Now that's a legacy I want to leave my child.
  • Growing food is FUN! No two years are the same so gardeners must always grow, adapt and learn. Don't be hard on yourself if a crop fails. Typically the same season that ends in a crop failure also provides the perfect conditions for another. Yes, you may end up eating more squash than tomatoes one year, but that's all part of the journey.
  • The genetic modification of God's creation is wrong. While I do not grow them, I don't mind the breeding of hybrid varieties (i.e. the breeding of 2 varieties of tomato to make a different tomato). This sort of thing can happen in nature. What cannot happen in nature is the breeding of a tomato with a fish. I do not like science altering my food, and there is no scientific proof that it is safe. We have worked to avoid all GMO products in our food at home and I certainly try to avoid it in the garden. There is a popular argument in favor of GMO products to "feed the world". We live in a country where half of the food we create goes into the garbage. Joel Salatin says in his book, Folks, This Ain't Normal, we don't have a production problem, we have a distribution problem. It's that whole "teach a man to fish" thing. Corrupt governments are largely to blame for this distribution problem. Those folks who know how to fish don't need the government to provide the fish and therefore are free. Ok, I'll get off the soapbox now.
So there you have it. It's unusual, frugal, and maybe a little contentious, but I like to be honest. Whether you are just looking for inspiration or wanting to dive right in to gardening, I hope you will consider subscribing to my blog. There is always something beautiful at Songbird Gardens.

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1 comment:

  1. Great photo of buckwheat! You make an excellent point against GMOs. Thank you! -Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures


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